Max Scherzer understands why everyone was concerned, from club officials to doctors to media members to Nationals fans who watched the staff ace deal with strange and seemingly significant back and neck injuries last season, right up into the World Series.
Yes, he got through it all and even pitched well in Game 7 to help put the Nats in position to win their first championship. But surely there would be lingering effects that required offseason attention or changes in preparation for next season to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Scherzer wants everyone to know he’s fine now. He’s known he’s been fine for quite some time, having undergone medical tests after the season and having begun playing catch only two weeks after the World Series ended.
“So I knew that there was no long-term damage,” he said Saturday at Winterfest. “I did the whole MRI thing, and that came away clean, too. Everybody wanted to dot their i’s and cross their t’s, and everybody did. I’m good. I’m strong. I’m good. I can throw a baseball. I’m good.”
In other words: Stop asking, OK?
Scherzer understands why there was concern. He had never dealt with any kind of prolonged injury in his big league career before an odd back strain sidelined him for the better part of seven weeks in mid-summer. And then came the surprise neck injury that prevented him from starting Game 5 of the World Series and forced him to pitch Game 7 three nights later only through the magic of a painkilling injection.
But he insists it’s all behind him now, and he continues to take steps to try to prevent any of it from cropping up again.
“We got some ideas of different things I’ve got to do,” he said. “I’m doing different (weight) lifts to help try to do some corrective exercises to help make sure that doesn’t happen again. But as I’ve alluded to, it’s the most confusing injury I’ve ever had in my career. How it came about and how it went away ... it wasn’t just a normal injury. Definitely cognizant of that, and doing everything I can to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Scherzer certainly hasn’t held back this winter. He began throwing in mid-November. And he departed for Florida just before New Year’s to begin throwing off a mound, just as he does every year. By the time pitchers and catchers officially report for spring training on Feb. 13, he’ll already be ready to throw 50-pitch bullpen sessions with full effort.
Others may worry about all the extra work he put in during a season that extended until the end of October, and the residual effect it could have on the following season. Scherzer doesn’t.
“No, because I’ve been in the playoffs before. I’ve been in the World Series before,” he said. “I know how to take care of myself more so than ever now. I feel good about going into 2020 and pitching well.”
So stop asking him about it, OK?